Friday, January 15, 2010

Visit to Paroisse Saint-Claude, Blackburn Hamlet - St. Remi

Abbe Jean-Louis Gosselin turned 75 on January 1st and submitted his letter of resignation (effective July 1) as pastor of Paroisse Saint-Claude in Blackburn Hamlet, a small village within the "Green Belt" of Ottawa's Gloucester region founded in 1973, an off-shoot of the recently closed Parish of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes-de-Cyrville.

The francophone Episcopal Vicar Daniel Berniquez and I conducted a visitation with the parishioners (elementary students of Ecole Sainte-Marie, including the confirmands; elderly parishioners in two seniors' residences; the heads of parish committees). We also met with the Pastoral Unit Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer-Bleue of which Saint-Claude is a constituent member (along with Saint-Laurent in Carlsbad Springs, Saint Hughes in Sarsfield and Sainte-Marie in Orleans).

Our primary challenge is to consider the future of the pastoral leadership, as well as its very viability as parishioners age, sell their homes and move away without practicing francophone Catholics to replace them.

The church is incorporated within a school which, while allowing space for overflow crowds at the Sunday and Feast Day Masses, is not attractive or desireable as the venue for a wedding or, on weekdays, a funeral.

Please pray for our ongoing task of discerning the future of this parish's leadership.

Here are some photos of the visitation:

A quiet moment during our visit to Blackthorn Lodge

Greeting a centenarian before Mass at the Aviva Residence

A photo of the newly confirmed after Mass last Sunday, the feast of the Lord's Baptism in which the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in bodily form

Lunch at the deacon's home yesterday; left to right: Abbe Michel Pommainville (pastor Paroisse Sainte-Marie); Deacon Claude Jacques and Abbe Jean-Louis Gosselin (Paroisse Saint-Claude)

Discussing the role of the bishop with grades 3-4, Ecole Sainte-Marie

A meeting with committee heads of Paroisse Saint-Claude

A conversation with some of the teaching staff, Ecole Sainte-Marie

The leaders of the four parishes that make up Notre Dame de la Mer Bleue Pastoral Unit

* * * * * *

The feast of SAINT REMI, Bishop (†533) appears on the liturgical calendar of France (for obvious reasons as one can see in the narrative of his life and ministry, below).

As we have a parish dedicated to St. Remi (in the western region of the city), I thought it appropriate to give some of his history, particularly Remi's conversion of Clovis, the King of the Franks.

Saint Remi or Remigius was born in the middle of the fifth century, of noble and pious parents. Remi at the age of twenty-two years was acclaimed Archbishop of Rheims, despite his humble doubts as to his competence.

He was unusually tall, his countenance manifested a blend of majesty and serenity; his bearing was gentle, humble, and retiring. He was learned and eloquent, and his pity and charity were boundless. In his labors he knew no weariness. His body was the outward expression of a noble and holy soul, breathing the spirit of meekness and compunction.

God had a particular and great work in store for Remi. The south of France was in the hands of Arians, and in the last years of the 5th century the pagan Franks were wresting the north from the Romans. But Saint Remigius was loved by Clovis, the fifth of the Merovingian kings.

The king was converted and baptized by him in 496, after winning the famous battle of Tolbiac, to fulfill a promise he had made to adopt the religion of his Christian wife if he repulsed the invading armies. A very large army of invaders, which had cast all of France into panic, fled in disarray when the small army of Clovis attacked, and their leader was slain.

Clovis had married the noble Christian maiden known to us as Saint Clotilda, and these three acting concertedly gained virtually the entire nation to the Christian religion. The army was baptized at the same time as Clovis, by Saint Remi and his assistants.

The Saint threw down the altars of the idols, built churches, and appointed bishops. He silenced the Arians and presided at the Catholic First Council of Orleans. Eventually he converted so many that he left France a Catholic kingdom; its king was also the first crowned son of the Church, and at that time the only one. Ever since Saint Remi, Catholic France has rejoiced in its title of eldest daughter of the Church.

After an episcopate of seventy-four years, the longest on record, Saint Remi died in 533, leaving to France his famous Testament, predicting God’s graces of predilection for this blessed kingdom, as long as its Heads remained faithful to Him, with the most severe chastisements if the contrary ensued.


  1. This image of the icon of Saintt Remi is by courtesy of Celtic Orthodox Church, Eparchy of Switzerland.
    Not for commercial use.
    Painted by presbytera Bénédicte Mottier.
    (C) EOC-COH, Sion/Valais 2009.

    Thank you !

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